African Colonialism is Being Erased in Order to Perpetuate African Ideals

by CelineG on September 12, 2015 - 12:50am

Taken from Huffington Post US, Nico Lang wrote an article published on the 3rd of September 2015 entitled “Taylor Swift's 'Wildest Dreams' Video Has a Major Race Problem”. The article begins by mentioning that Taylor’s new video seems to be inspired by the movie “Out of Africa” starring Meryl Streep. Already the intentions of the video are likely to raise a few red flags since it is set in White Colonialist Era, he says. He mentions a point that another article stated, which is that if you wish to represent or re-create a specific time period, you should not be obligated to show all the negative aspects of it. However, he reminds us that it is important to note that this isn’t the first time she has been accused of “accidental racism” as he puts it, nor is it the first time female popstars have either. He mentions a string of female celebrities who have appropriated cultures as well like Selena Gomez and Avril Lavigne. Unfortunately, this isn’t the main problem with the video, but he believes it is in fact the erasure that she exudes in her entire career. He concludes by saying that she fails to take into consideration the role race plays in pop culture and it’s shown from her “white feminist” approach to the whole VMA’s debacle with Nicki Minaj over twitter and her majority of white females in her publicized friend group. 

 

It is very difficult to be black or white when it comes to this issue since it’s very easy to see both sides of the argument, but personally I lean more on the side where I don’t agree with the video. It is unfortunate that she had to make reference to colonialism which was a time where Europeans thought they were superior to Africans because of their skin colour. It reminds me of Curnoe’s article in our coursepack where he mentions the different genetic and biological variations depending on location that paved the Europeans mindset. On the other hand, he mentions that the variation is extremely minuscule however apparent when it comes to skin colour and physical traits. I don’t think there were ill intentions behind the video but I am skeptical to think that the team behind the idea of the video did not realize the repercussions and flack it would bring. It is naive to think that they didn’t purposely depict the ideal and generalized view of Africa, meaning the Sahara, wild animals and beautiful views, and it is dangerous to perpetuate this stereotype because it erases the struggles and the atrocities that took place only a couple centuries ago.

 

Article Reference: 

 

Lang, N. (2015). Taylor Swift’s ‘Wildest Dreams’ Video Has Major Race Problems. Huffington    Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com

Comments

After reading the very first sentence of your post, I was intrigued. I do not follow the latest news about pop stars so I was intrigued to know what was happening lately with Taylor Swift. Shortly after reading the rest of your post I quickly went to look at the video of Taylor Swift’s new song Wildest Dreams, to make up my own mind about the issue in question. I think incorporating only white people within a theme of Africa, which is portrayed through the animals and landscapes, was a mistake. As they are trying to portray an idea of Africa they are not realistic about its population which are black. By having an only white cast on the video they are showing their audience a fake reality of Africa. Human skin differs depending on where you live, this reality should be put forward in the video and show black skinned people. Also the clothing chosen for the video also refers to colonialism which was not a much highlighted moment for the black population. I do not think this mistake was purposely made, it wasn’t planning to cause any harm. At the very end of the video we can read that Taylor Swift is donating money to the animals. Is this donation enough to make people forget about the misrepresented Africa showed in the video?